FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Lady Bisons will need extra luggage to bring back all of the hardware they have picked up at the Atlantic Sun Tournament here.
On Thursday, the opening day of the three-day conference championships, the Lady Bisons were honored along with the other teams in the tournament field at a buffet luncheon at the Embassy Suites. They ate pasta, grilled chicken and salads and then changed quickly for afternoon practice.
The Lady Bisons earned a bye as the top seed and will play at 4 p.m. CST Friday in the semi-finals.
As part of the luncheon several conference awards were handed out for accomplishments this season with the Lady Bisons winning more than their share.
The Lady Bisons were honored as the A-Sun regular season champion, their first such award in the history of the program. They also received special recognition for becoming the first team to complete the A-Sun double round-robin with a perfect 20-0 record.
Brandon Rosenthal was honored as A-Sun Coach of the Year. He was also commended for the work he has done as head of the coaches committee for volleyball the past two years.
Rosenthal credited his players for his success.
“Obviously, it is nice honor, but I don't think I did anything different this year,” said Rosenthal. “I tried to give more ownership to the team. I tried to really step back and look at what this is all about.
“The working hard part is something that will never change for me. But at the end of the day I think we have a group of girls that like each other and are willing to work hard. They have the ability to have fun.”
Junior middle hitter Alex Kelly was named Atlantic Sun Player of the Year for the second year in a row. She and junior setter Jake Pease were both named First Team All-Atlantic Sun.
“Their desire to win is unbelievable,” said Rosenthal. “As sophomores they had tremendous years and garnered a lot of accolades. As juniors I knew it was going to be tough and they were going to have to step up leadership wise.
“Both of them worked extremely hard to become leaders. They deserve everything they get. I am really proud of both of them.”
Junior outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer was named A-Sun Second Team All-Conference. Outside hitter Kaycee Green was a unanimous selection for the All-Freshman Team.
“Meghan had huge numbers down the stretch,” said Rosenthal. “We really needed that down the stretch. Team had already seen us. It was getting late in the season.
“We needed that next person to stop up. Meghan did a tremendous job. Her hitting percentage, especially in the last few matches, she had some ridiculous numbers. The part that really goes understated, however, is her defense.”
Hinemeyer also played club volleyball with Pease and Kelly. She offers a contrast to Pease and Kelly in terms of personality.
“Meghan is probably more of a free spirit,” said Rosenthal. “She is tough on herself, but supportive of her teammates.
“She lightens the mood. She is very humble in the sense she doesn't let very much get to her.”
Rosenthal predicts that Green, who was one of top overall performers in the conference this season, is only going to get better.
“The sky is the limit for Kaycee,” said Rosenthal. “She has really done a nice job with the pressure of coming in right away and having to compete in the type of season that we are having.
“She has another level. Over the next year you are going to see that Kaycee has the ability to be another player of the year candidate.”
Mark McGee,Senior Publisher/Media Relations Director